Why stop at $9 an hour for minimum wage? Why not just go for $10?
Shoot ... make it $20! If we are going to artificially inflate the minimum wage, it really shouldn't even matter what we pay unskilled labor. This is a numbers game that the political left like to play, and the math never truly adds up. The term "minimum wage" has a Pavlovian effect on Democrats; the mere mentioning of this phrase causes them to salivate uncontrollably, even if no tangible benefit is actually in front of them. As noted by Gretchen Nicholoff, chair for the Delta County Democratic Party, in her most recent letter to the editor, "[Democrats] believe that work is empowering and ennobling and sets a good example for our children, as they watch their parents work hard to give them a fair shot at the American dream... A living wage is the very ground of this ideal." On a surface level, platitudes about a "living wage" sound like an idea that everybody could get behind. Who doesn't like more money? However, increasing the minimum wage will not produce the altruistic results that Democrats promise, especially in Delta County.
First, let's examine the argument put forward by Nicholoff. She declares Washington State to be the mecca for low-income earners, where the minimum wage is the highest in the country. She also boasts that it has a 7.6% unemployment rate, which is below the national average by an astonishing two-tenths of a percentage point. How do those crazy Pacific Northwesterners do it?
To counter this argument, I borrowed Nicholoff's "thorough" research methodology — namely a "quick look on the Internet." I visited the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics' website, and discovered that Nicholoff offers a great example of causation-versus-correlation — and how you shouldn't confuse the two. She erroneously confounds two metrics as if they are mutually inclusive without factoring in the complex nature of economic behavior. Her argument is misleading and intellectually dishonest. First off, Washington ranks 30th in the United States for unemployment rates, which is hardly anything to brag about. Furthermore, I can use the same failed logic to prove the contrary of her argument. Case in point: Wyoming. This state has a minimum wage BELOW the federal mandate: $5.15 an hour. Aside from tipped employees, this lower wage applies to several categories of exempt positions — minors, workers with disabilities, non-profit employees, farm labor, etc. — that do not have to abide by the federal standard of $7.25 an hour. However, Wyoming boasts an even lower unemployment rate of 4.9%, which is much more impressive than Washington's. And how about North Dakota? It abides by the federal standard, and it has the lowest rate of 3.2% unemployment rate. Cherry picking data and confusing correlation with causation are the telltale signs of a fallacious argument.
I am a firm believer that the majority of those who want to raise the minimum wage have never been called "boss" before. (I am referring to the employment title, not the '70s slang.) I would highly encourage the Delta Democrats to anonymously survey every small "ma and pa" shop of Delta County (which represents a large portion of the local economy), and see what these folks have to say about this potential increase. Delta County is holding on by a thread as it is, and increases in labor costs is the last thing many small business owners need as we work our way out of this recession. Increasing the minimum wage means the possibility of a 24% increase in labor costs for small business owners. Unless you run a gargantuan entity like Walmart (which hardly counts as a local business), absorbing this expense will not come easily. This means that hours will be reduced and less hiring will occur. Or employers will shift this cost back onto consumers, which disproportionately affects those on the lower income level — the very same demographic of folks that Nicholoff and her Democrat buddies are trying to help — since they have to pay more for basic goods. Either way, Delta County will have to endure more unnecessary economic hardship.
Rather than fall in line with the national party's platform, the Delta Democrats need to seriously evaluate the needs of their constituency. Either that, or they need to consider enrolling in night classes in economics, statistics, and critical thinking, because they show an utter lack of knowledge in all three areas.